The Final Scene
“Hello, it’s ‘Are You Hungry Takeout’…” The delivery man held a bag and walked up the stairs, he was almost frolicking as he thought about the possibility of asking for a signature when the door opened later.
He stopped suddenly in his tracks and looked back.
A rubber ball dropped on the floor, bounced twice and rolled into a corner.
Who threw the ball? The delivery man looked up, no one was in sight.
His gaze then returned to the ball. He furrowed his brow before he continued up the stairs, mumbling, “How unlucky, there had to be a power outage when I’m here…”
The apartment building without electricity was pitch black, there was only a single ray of moonlight shining in from the window of the corridor.
Just as he stepped on a step of stairs, he suddenly heard a sound, “Thump.”
—The sound of a rubber ball hitting the floor.
Thump, thump, thump. Once, twice, thrice, who was bouncing the ball behind him?
The delivery man quickly looked back, there was no one! There was only a rubber ball at the instant he looked back, falling to the floor, bouncing twice and rolling towards a corner.
He started sweating very quickly, instinctively taking two steps back. His heels were tripped up by the stairs, causing him to fall down sitting on the stairs. He cursed under his breath before he frantically got up. He did not dare to run down the stairs in the direction of the ball, he could only climb up with all his might.
He rushed to Ning Ning’s door in an instant.
“Open up, open up!” He punched and kicked the door in front of him, not caring if he would get a poor rating later.
The door did not open, an eye appeared behind the peephole. She said, “Is it the delivery man?”
“It’s…me…behind…” The delivery man huffed and puffed as he spoke incoherently.
“There’s nothing behind you.” Ning Ning said.
Just as her voice petered out, the light outside her door flashed, then the corridor turned snow white—the electricity had come back up.
“It’s true.” Ning Ning said gently, “See for yourself if you don’t believe me.”
Sometimes humans were like moths, they feared the dark and liked the light. This sudden burst of light seemed to have given the originally limp delivery man a shot of strength, giving him the strength to look back.
Phew—the sound of a long breath.
There was no one behind him, neither was there a rubber ball.
With a lingering fear in his heart, he lost his mood to get the signature as well. “I’ll leave the food here.” The delivery man bent down and put the food on the floor, then turned around and walked into the elevator.
The door opened, the delivery man entered. He turned around and faced the door, his eyes suddenly widened, he quickly hit the close door button.
Thud, thud, thud—the sound of a bouncing ball.
There was not a person in sight in the corridor, but the sound of the bouncing ball got closer. Thud, thud, thud. A brown rubber ball bounced up and down, coming up the stairs step by step.
“Quick, quick, quickly close the door ahhh!!” The delivery man clawed at the close door button madly. The elevator door slowly closed in front of him, keeping the rubber door outside of the elevator.
Thud, thud, thud—the rubber ball suddenly stopped in the air.
A pair of pale arms hugged the ball. They slowly turned around and faced Ning Ning’s door.
Looking through the peephole, she saw that it was a masked person in the form of a child, beside him were asked people of all genders and ages.
One of them picked up the bag the delivery man had left behind. They slowly walked towards the rubbish bin by the staircase, let go of their hand and dropped the food into the rubbish bin.
That had been happening for three consecutive days.
On the fourth day, Director Chen could not bear it anymore, he got someone to push him to Ning Ning’s house.
“Come out.” He said coldly, “Otherwise, I will make sure you won’t be able to stay in the show business anymore. I’ll give you ten seconds. Ten, nine, eight…”
The door opened, Ning Ning stood in the doorway looking a little frail, her eyes drifted all around before they finally landed on Director Chen.
“I don’t care what reason you have for not coming to the set for a few days, come back with me now, you are not allowed to come home before the filming is done.” Director Chen shot a look at his assistant, his assistant turned his wheelchair around and walked towards the elevator. Halfway to the elevator, Director Chen looked back, “Catch up!”
Ning Ning could only follow them.
The wheelchair entered the elevator first, followed by the assistant’s feet, then Ning Ning’s feet.
The assistant pressed the close door button, but the doors did not close.
The weight limit indicator rang out.
The assistant looked around with a confused expression. There were only three people in the elevator, why would the weight limit indicator start ringing? Was the elevator broken? He pressed the close door button again. When the doors closed down the middle, he breathed a sigh of relief and returned to the back of Director Chen’s wheelchair.
The floor indicator changed from seven to six, the assistant tugged on his tie and laughed. “It feels a little stuffy.”
“Yeah.” Ning Ning said absent-mindedly, “It’s probably because there’s a lot of people in here.”
The hands which were fixing the tie froze. On the elevator doors in front of them that were as smooth as a mirror, there was a reflection showing the three people.
On the left was Ning Ning in a red dress, in the middle was Director Chen on the wheelchair, on the right was the assistant who was holding on to the wheelchair.
Behind them, were rows and rows of masked people.
Ning Ning took out her phone and sent a text: [The bait has been bitten, the rest is up to you.]
After the text was sent, the door to Ning Ning’s house opened again.
Wen Yu walked out of her house.
“Big Bro, it’s time for us to go.” Wen Yu held his phone and said with a deep voice, “I guess you want to ask me where we’re going next… In the prison, among the people who were about to be executed, we would definitely be able to find a couple of scoundrels who are hated, who doesn’t want to die and would rather become the doorman.”
Upon finishing his words, he walked towards the elevator.
The elevator door opened and closed, on the elevator doors in front of them that were as smooth as a mirror, were the two figures.
One to the left and one to the right, the elder brother and the younger brother.
The elevator door opened.
“I’ll be on my way.” Wen Yu walked out of the elevator first. He stopped in his tracks and said without looking back, “You should leave quickly as well…don’t let her down.”
Three days ago, they were chased into the house by the masked people. What followed was a long period of siege. You couldn’t come in, I could not go out either. You didn’t have to eat, I could survive on meal replacement powder anyway. Amidst the stalemate, Shi Zhong Tang acted as the negotiator. He was free to travel between the two sides, but it did not bring about much results in those three days.
Continuing that way was not the way to go.
“I might as well be a bait and lure the masked people away.” Ning Ning finally made up her mind and told Wen Yu, “You go look for the doorman candidate, the criteria for the candidate is this…”
Afterwards, everything proceeded according to plan.
“I hope everything goes successfully.” Ning Ning prayed in her heart in Director Chen’s car as she looked at her surroundings cautiously.
Maybe Shi Zhong Tang’s negotiations had worked? No one shot Director Chen’s car window with a slingshot while they were on the road.
The car arrived at the set safely. Ning Ning looked back, why did they not follow them? What was going on? Did the bait plan fail? Did they go looking for Wen Yu?
“Why did you stop again?” Director Chen looked back anxiously as well, he got a little angry. “Why are you still fiddling with your phone? The crew has stopped work for a few days already, do you want to work or not?”
“Coming, coming.” Ning Ning could only send a text to Wen Yu, then frantically enter the makeup room.
There was a new makeup artist today. Although their skills were not up to par compared to the previous, they worked fast, with their nimble hands, the makeup on Ning Ning was done very quickly.
After changing into the costume, Ning Ning walked out of the makeup room.
She was taken aback.
The crew stood in an orderly manner, the masked people also stood in an orderly manner.
“It’s the final scene, let’s work hard to finish it today.” Director Chen clapped with a copy of a script that was rolled up against his palm.
The final scene, <<The Phantom’s Stage>>.
The male lead still ended up with the rich young lady eventually, the phantom got on stage herself, ignoring the consequences due to hatred and jealousy.
Acting for the first time with others, but it was also the last time.
The final brilliance, the most beautiful singing voice, the most real me—I would give everything to you, so…choose me.
“I’m here.” Shi Zhong Tang’s voice rang out beside Ning Ning, “Our side is going smoothly, what about you? Is your side alright?”
Ning Ning pointed at the audience with her chin, indicating that he should look for himself.
Shi Zhong Tang turned his head and looked over, he saw that within the theater that was used to film this scene, there was not an empty seat.
There were people, there were also masked people.
An extra walked to their seat and was about to sit down. Mr. Rabbit who was on the seat reached out and kicked them on their butt. The extra held their butt and looked back then started arguing with another extra who was on the seat beside him. Afterwards, both of them were chased out by the assistant director. What happened to the extra seat? Mr. Rabbit gestured to Shi Zhong Tang for him to take it.
“…What are they doing?” Ning Ning touched her head while being at a loss for words.
“They’re here to watch you act.” Shi Zhong Tang laughed. “Masked people have very few forms of entertainment, many have not seen live filming before.”
“…This doesn’t feel right?” Ning Ning said doubtfully, “They were coming after my life previously, now they suddenly want to watch me act? Did their brains short circuit? Or are they actually my hardcore fans? The reason that they had stood outside my house for three days was to wait for me to come out and give them a signature?”
That was impossible, there must be another reason.
Shi Zhong Tang fell silent for a moment before he smiled. “Actually it’s because of what I told them.”
“What did you tell them?”
“I told them that what happened at the hospital was an accident, that they could tell from the news that you are not targeting masked people, you are targeting the scum who abuses pregnant women.”
Ning Ning stared at him with suspicion. Shi Zhong Tang definitely said something to them, otherwise that group of people would not suddenly give in. But it was probably not because Shi Zhong Tang told them what he claimed, or he did not only tell them just that statement? Because this group of masked people were really hard to talk to.
“So next up, you have to perform well.” Shi Zhong Tang caressed the mask on her face—the white mask that the phantom wears, he said gently, “Your full devotion will bring about their full engagement, the better you act, the longer they will watch, giving Wen Yu more time.”
…Ah, that’s right, what other methods are there besides this?
Be it negotiating or fighting, neither of those were what she was good at, she only knew how to act.
Then as Shi Zhong Tang had wished, she would use what she was best at, the acting skills that she had honed time and time again from Life Theater, to make the group of masked people stay on the audience seats.
The final scene, <<The Phantom’s Stage>>, officially began.